Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Can I Get an Amen?

This same daughter I talked about in the previous post gave her testimony last night! There were very few dry eyes in the building. Several children/young adults made professions of faith after they heard her speak. She was shaking and crying (as were her parents and many other church members), but she stayed strong and made it through. I think I was even more excited last night than the day she was born! It was like watching her being reborn and, in a way it was. Are you amening yet?

Last night, hearing our daughter speak about her struggles trying to communicate, brought back a flood of memories. In spite of all the hardships, God was with her (and us ) ALL the way. His protection over Shelbi does not just apply to delivering her from Selective Mutism. His hand has been on her since conception.

At two months pregnant, I spotted enough to concern me and my doctor. No major cramps, but he did ask me to come to the office. He checked everything and found nothing wrong. My pregnancy progressed normally, but at eight months I had contractions. At the hospital, I was monitored and observed overnight. The contractions were real and steady, showed up on the monitor, but within hours completely stopped. Then a couple of weeks later, my water leaked. When the nurses checked me, they said my bag had not broken at all. Hat in hand-- I headed home. A few days before my due date (on our second wedding anniversary), more contractions even harder than the first time. Once more, my labor stopped. I was SO upset and disappointed! This was also getting very embarrassing! After all, on the third kid how can you make all of these mistakes?! The day before my original due date here come pains again. I cried to Larry, "I AM NOT GOING BACK TO THAT HOSPITAL! THEY'LL JUST SEND ME HOME!" I sat at home and waited until I was beyond miserable. Larry made the final call and I went back, terrified of being sent home. Four hours later, there she was, all 8 lb. 15 oz. of her! I was never so glad to see a baby in all my life!! Right after, one of the nurses said, "I've been delivering babies for 12 years and that's the first time I've ever seen one with TWO sacks of water!" Maybe, God had extra protection around her for a reason-- so she'd come at just the right time? like an extra layer of bubble wrap around a valuable package?! Hmmm... I wonder. :)

Forward to fifteen months old. Odd looking bruises started appearing on Shelbi in very unusual places. A dark, dime-sized bruise appeared on her hip under her diaper area. Another appeared on the top of her ear. She got her 15 months shots and the nurse said it could cause a "measles looking rash in ten days." Ten days later when she broke out in little purple dots, I assumed that it was the reaction to the shot. (I found out later they were little blood blisters.) When I changed her diaper that night, it was dry except for what looked like a pink lemonade colored stain. Thinking she had a kidney or bladder infection, the next day we went to our pediatrician's office. He took one look at her and said, "I'm pretty sure she has a rare and serious blood disorder called ITP." Essentially, it meant her platelet count was extremely low. Normal for her age was around 250,000 and Shelbi's was 1,000! Hoping he was mistaken, I whispered, "And what else could it be?" I'll NEVER forget his next words-- they're still echoing in my head after all these years. "It could be leukemia." She had to go straight to the hospital! I called my husband to meet me there and could barely say the words. Then I called my mom to go watch the other five kids so Larry could meet me. When she heard my panicky voice, she said, "Does he think it's leukemia?" I lost it and between sobs managed to say, "I don't know." Terror set it as I watched nurses bring a metal crib into the hospital room and wrap the rails with blankets and tape. That night, Shelbi slept on my chest and I wept until her golden curls were drenched. Her platelet count came up with IV medications, but bottomed again two weeks later. Our doctor sent us to the Children's Cancer Center for a bone marrow biopsy to determine if it was ITP or if it was leukemia. Thank God, it was the blood disorder! ITP is treatable, but there is no cure. Her doctor said sometimes it goes away as quickly as it comes and is rare to have more than one or two episodes. Shelbi would be hospitalized and on IV meds MANY times over the next two years. Then steroids controlled it, which made her miserable. Until she was about six, we were in the doctor's office getting her finger pricked about 3 times a week. Finally, I just asked her doctor if we needed to continue coming. He told us to just keep an eye out for bruises and bring her in if I noticed anything. Praise God, I can't even remember when she had blood work done again. God has healed her!

After all of this, at 13 she was diagnosed with scoliosis. The specialist said the curve in her spine was just a couple of inches away from needing surgery. The kind of surgery that involves cutting you open from the back of your neck to the top of your tailbone and attaching a steel rod to your spine. He said a brace could be made for her to wear 12 hours each night. It wouldn't straighten her spine, but MIGHT keep the curve from worsening. After wearing the brace for almost two years, x-rays showed the curve was LESS than it was when we started. That wasn't supposed to happen!

Just last Labor Day, my husband had job-related classes he had to take in Memphis. His boss said he could take his family him, but with a grandchild due in February, I was trying to hang on to every vacation/sick day I could and I NEVER let Shelbi miss school for no reason. Shelbi begged to go "Mom, it's Memphis. I've never been to Memphis." Well, neither had I and a free vacation was just too tempting to pass up. Shelbi and I looked on the Internet and got ideas of things to do while Larry was in class all day. The Saturday night before Labor Day, Shelbi had terrible stomach pains and Larry debated on whether we should go or not. I said, "If something really is wrong, I'd rather be in Memphis with you." She seemed fine so we went ahead with our plans. Monday afternoon we arrived in Memphis. It was too late to do much, but we rode around looking and ate dinner. I remember finding the hotel and as we pulled up I saw a hospital across the street. I joked, "Well, there's hospital if we need it." Two o'clock in the morning, Shelbi is doubled over. Her stomach was hurting so badly, she couldn't stand up. The ER was empty, in spite of a large city full of Hurricane Gustav evacuees! Shelbi began throwing up as soon as we got there. Three tests later, it is confirmed. This 16 year old's gallbladder is inflamed and FULL of STONES! They asked us if we wanted to have the surgery there or come home and have it. Well, just so happens our little home town was hit by Gustav--- there's a county-wide blackout. Hospitals are running on generators! There's no air conditioning, stores and gas stations are out of service. Total chaos! What do you think we did?! That's right! We spent our "once in a lifetime" (teenage drama) vacation in the hospital and do you know what? I was grateful! Once again, God had protected Shelbi and I believe we were on that "vacation" just for her surgery. AMAZING!!

Last night as she gave her testimony about God's divine deliverance, all of these things and more flashed through my mind. It was heartbreaking, heartwarming, heart stopping, and heart wrenching! It was the bravest thing I've EVER seen and I am so proud of her! It has been an awesome experience to watch her grow! She is my inspiration!


Lord, thank you, thank you, thank you!!! AMEN

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